The indispensable Wall Street Journal
editorial page has a must-read piece
on Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski's latest plan to grab power over the Internet. I already covered some of this ground here
. But what I like is that the very smart writers at the WSJ
had the same instinctive take that I did. They lead an editorial titled, "Julius Caesar of the Internet: The FCC puts another industry under political control," with this:
A federal appeals court ruled last month that the Federal Communications Commission lacks the authority to regulate the Internet. No worries, mate. This week the Obama Administration chose to "reclassify" the Internet so it can regulate the Web anyway. This crowd is nothing if not legally creative.
Here is my opening salvo in a statement
I penned for The Heartland Institute hours after Genachowski's announcement:
The Federal Communications Commission under Chairman Genachowski is proving relentless in its pursuit of power over the digital economy, and ever-more creative in its attempts to grab regulatory authority Congress never granted.
It's humbling to see the same instincts reflected by the really, really smart guys at the WSJ editorial page. But there were wrinkles to this story that I didn't think about, but the WSJ did:
All indications early this week were that the FCC wouldn't take such a drastic step. But when a Washington Post story reported that news, the liberal "consumer" lobbies went to the barricades, and Mr. Genachowski's team sequestered itself from other FCC commissioners for most of Tuesday. Late Wednesday, he broke the "reclassify" news. Perhaps they all had overnight epiphanies.
I, too, noted what I thought was good news
on this front early this week. And I was surprised to see such a quick reversal. But, frankly, Genechowski's statement was so sweeping and detailed, I doubt he had an "epiphany," but was just engaging in a humble head-fake. He's wanted to do this all along, and obviously had his legal staff working overtime in the last month to present him with a fig leaf for his "third way." But the "sequestering" of King Julius and his staff sure is at least a little suspicious.
The WSJ editorial makes the case well for why FCC regulation of the Internet will not only harm digital innovation, but harm the economy as a whole. Uncertainty breeds stasis. And as the WSJ points out, "Telecom accounts for nearly half (47%) of all non-structure capital investment in the U.S."
Prepare, then, for the overall economy to be even more sluggish if Genachowski gets his way. Read the whole editorial, but the last line is a good one:
Autos, health care, energy, Wall Street and now telecom. Is there any American industry this Administration doesn't want to run?